Orphan Black Bosses Reveal How They Made the Clones Dance — With Video!

Orphan Black Dance Party

Warning: If you have yet to watch Saturday’s Season 2 finale of Orphan Black, avert your eyes now. Everyone else, read on…

What better way to celebrate the end of an intense season of Orphan Black than with a dance party?

While that unforgettable finale moment where Sarah, Helena, Cosima, Alison, Felix and Kira take part in some free-spirited dancing looked like fun, it was a hugely difficult technical challenge for creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett and the cast and crew — but one they knew they wanted to conquer from the start of the season.

Below, Manson and Fawcett reveal how they captured that clone dance party — we’ve got video below, if you somehow missed it — and discuss the behind-the-scenes of Sarah and Cosima’s, literally, touching moment in bed.

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TVLINE | The dance party scene was so great. After having the clones apart for most of the season, was it important for you to bring them together and have that as a little reward for the fans at the end?
MANSON | Absolutely. Yeah, very much so. We had this clone dance party concept going from the beginning. It became quite clear to us that it could be a tremendous emotional climax for the season, and it would be a great technical challenge for John to direct. It was a scene that required a lot of planning and required a lot of buy-in for the networks for the extra time required to do it. So we started planning and pitching that scene very early in the season, actually, to be able to pull it off near the end. It was an intensive couple of days to shoot that.
FAWCETT | We had never done a four-clone scene before, let alone a dance scene. It was certainly the most complex thing that we had undertaken to date. The scene where Helena shows up in the loft and meets Cosima and Alison, Sarah’s there, Kira jumps into Helena’s arms – that scene and the dance party took two full days to shoot. The way that was done is the first day, I think Tat [Maslany] began as Cosima, and we shot all of the Cosima parts for both scenes. Then she switched to Alison, and we shot Alison for the meeting Helena scene and the dance party. And then the next day, we came back and she started as Helena, and we shot all the layers and bits for that with three doubles. Three different doubles, and everyone’s changing at the same time. So every time Tat changes, the other girls change, also.

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TVLINE | And Felix is interacting with all of them, too, at the same time.
FAWCETT | That was all part of the technical challenge of doing the dance shot. In truth, there was one long shot that was done and designed for the dance party, in which Felix cleverly begins with Cosima, then interacts with Alison and then finally interacts with Sarah. It was actually all shot as one shot and then, in the end, because it’s a little long and we’re trying to shorten it up, we intercut it and gave it a bit more pace. It was definitely a huge technical challenge.
MANSON | You should have seen the tape on the floor required. All the marks. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looked like snakes and ladders.
FAWCETT | We probably rehearsed that scene – full-on rehearsals [with] stand-ins, our visual effects guys, the camera guys – three times prior to getting to set. And [we] involved Tat in those rehearsals, tried to steal her away from what she was shooting to be in rehearsal.
MANSON | At least three times in the episode previously, we were rehearsing.
FAWCETT | We were rehearsing while Episode 9 was shooting, and I was trying to steal Tat off the set to do the dance rehearsal for me because I was prepping Episode 10.

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Orphan Black Season 2 FinaleTVLINE | The scene with Sarah and Cosima in bed was also incredible.
MANSON | That’s one of my favorite scenes of the year.
FAWCETT | It was a really beautifully written scene. It’s really emotional for both those girls.
MANSON | It’s another scene that I knew we were going to do from the beginning, and I kept trying to put that scene in earlier episodes. It landed where it belonged in the end.
FAWCETT | It lands so well here. One of the things I’m proud of, from just a directorial point of view, is there’s this really beautiful high shot over the bed where the two girls are lying in bed and Cosima holds her hand up and they intertwine arms while they’re talking. You get to hold in that shot for a while, watching them touch hands and talk. When I watch it, it just blows my mind because it’s so seamless from a visual effects point of view. I even forget.
MANSON | Only one of those is Tat’s arms.
FAWCETT | It’s Tat and then [her double] Kathryn’s arm is attached to Cosima. Tat playing Sarah is her real hand. Sarah is intertwining hands with Kathryn’s arm, which is cut off Kathryn’s body and attached to Cosima’s body. … Sometimes the visual effects, you struggle with them a little bit. And then sometimes, they just come together beautifully.

Relive the amazing clone dance party scene below and stay tuned to TVLine for even more Orphan Black scoop from Manson and Fawcett!

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23 Comments
  1. TV Gord says:

    What a great scene! Very cathartic for the fans!

  2. Amanda says:

    I’m sorry to say this…the editing on the clone dance scene was just really bad. I understand it was an obviously difficult scene to shoot, but Orphan Black usually shines at that kind of stuff. This was just not at the same quality level. For me at least, I could see where each clone was layered in, and I couldn’t enjoy the scene for how adorable it was.

    • Bryce says:

      Ooooookay. You have got to be kidding me.

    • Annie says:

      You’re not wrong – there were a few clunky frames. But overall, given how ridiculously complex this must have been to choreograph – think about it! Four clones in a tight space with a defined floor plan, PLUS Felix moving in and out, interacting with each of them variously – I’m willing to call it a success. Well done.

      • Amanda says:

        I definitely applaud them for tackling such a difficult scene, but the few clunks just took me out of it. Ambitious, but not executed well. That’s okay though! Not every scene can be flawless.

        • BTM says:

          Do it better yourself.

        • God says:

          Next time you need to send your resume to BBC America and do the effects yourself okay hun?

          • Angie says:

            It’s so wonderful that people are free to have a negative viewpoint or criticism about someone else’s work. I’m similarly thankful that audiences listen respectfully when reality show judges critique artists’ performances. [/sarcasm]

        • mutercim says:

          Amanda did you ever watch Sarah Michelle Geller’s “Ringer”? After watching that and then this, there’s no way I’m going to criticize these guys for the stellar work they have been doing. It was not flawless, no; but they consistently keep pulling off miracles with the budget and time constraints they must contend with.

    • Suz says:

      Agreed. You see the shadows below/at the feet, moving arms are cut, etc. in an earlier scene I did notice the X on the table after an item was picked up.

      The bed scene was perfect but focus was on the dialog…

    • TV Gord says:

      If you’re looking for flaws, you can always find them. Me? I’d rather just relax and enjoy the show. Which one of us is better off? :-)

    • ? says:

      Yes, you could see a bit of how the scene was put together if you were looking for it. And knowing how incredibly complex what you were watching was to create, you were probably looking for it. Like I was. So bear that in mind. It may not have been flawless but I thought they succeeded awesomely.

  3. Babybop says:

    Sometimes I forget how all these different people are played by one actress. They rock. I thought the dance scene looked great.

  4. Alichat says:

    There’s an extended version of this scene on the BBC America site. They cut back and forth between the aired and unedited scene….and then there is a little special bit at the end. It’s pretty interesting to see the un-CG’d scenes.

  5. Leigh says:

    From the moment Helena arrives through the Cosima/Sarah scene was my favorite period in all of Orphan Black. It was well worth the time, effort, and expense, so thank you.

  6. 324B21 says:

    The scene wasn’t flawless but I still think it was done very well all things considered. I thought it was a nice moment for the clones and for the fans. A little bit of goofy happiness tuck in amid all the crazy. The scene between Sarah and Cosima was beautiful.

  7. Sheldon W. says:

    There have been so many great moments in this show over its first two season, but this is the first (and only) moment of perfect joy – and its placement is also just exactly right.

    Bravo to Manson and Fawcett and everyone involved in the scene!

  8. JJ says:

    TVLine u have been wonderful throughout the whole OB season!!!!! thanks Clone Club loves u. And you watied until the last episode air to post this, unlike other journalist that jumped ahead and revealed the dance party ruinning the surprise for a bunch of us.

  9. Aleksalynn says:

    I liked little Kira joining in in the sidelines, too.

  10. TV Gord says:

    Does anyone know what the tune is? I can’t get it out of my head and I want to know more about it! Thanks in advance! :-)

  11. logleothelion says:

    I am in love with you guys, thank you for a flawless scene in a flawless season, you’re TV GODS!!! #Teachaolddognewtricks :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

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